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Welcome to the Slippery Rock Youth Soccer Association website! Log in to your account to register or, if you are new, click on the Register button and set up an account to register your child for the 2019 Spring Season. Registration will be open for Travel teams and the Academy program (the Travel Player Pool option is available again) - contact us if you are interested in your child joining SRYSA!

Slippery Rock Youth Soccer Association

News Detail


Feb, 2018

The Progression and Levels of Youth Soccer

Different Levels of Youth Soccer

Hello Parents,

As we gear up for our Spring Soccer season we wanted to take some time to explain the different levels of youth soccer that are available to our kids throughout the area.  Soccer has seen a huge increase in participation at the youth levels and with this there seems to be a new club popping up in every town in America which can create confusion.  With the information below I hope to provide some clarity as to the progression of youth soccer in the area and what is out there.

Recreational Soccer Clubs

Almost every town in America will have a local youth soccer program run by local parents and community leaders and volunteers. Some of these Recreational clubs are very small, like ours where we average close to 100 players, while others, like Seneca Valley can exceed 500 players.  These Rec clubs may be run by parents, or other individuals that volunteer their time in order to provide an athletic outlet for the children of their surrounding community. Recreational Soccer Clubs like the one at Slippery Rock Youth Soccer Association are broken up into two groups.  These two groups are “In house” (or what we are now calling Academy) and Travel. 

IN House or Academy Soccer is played by kids under 8 years old and also the older, less experienced players who are just starting.  The focus with this age group is player development, fitness and fun, with an emphasis on the last two.  Competition takes a back seat to Fun with this age group.  SRYSA offers In house (Academy) soccer for all players under the age of 14 depending on their experience and skill level.  We attempt to use the in house program as a training ground for players to develop the skills to play at a higher level like Travel or Club soccer or just provide an outlet for fun activity with their friends.

TRAVEL Soccer- With in the Recreational soccer programs there will be players that may be too advanced for the rest of the group in terms of their skill and athletic ability.  In order to keep this player focused and interested in the sport a more advanced group is created – Travel Teams.  These teams will require more dedication as the games are now more competitive than the Academy games. Kids in these groups will play against other local youth soccer programs that train like-minded children. Due to the nature of this competitive group, recreational soccer programs will require that the coach have a higher level license and possibly more in-depth knowledge of the game itself. The training for these teams becomes more structured and fast-paced. The coaches are still considered volunteers. They may attend competitive tournaments representing their Rec Club program. Participation in this part of the recreational program will cost a few more dollars. Coaches at this level are required to have a minimum USSF (F license) in order to coach.  All players are required to submit a copy of their birth certificate and photo in order to be eligible to play on a travel team.  Because of our enrollment at SRYSA, most times there are openings for players regardless of their skill level, to play on one of our travel teams.  However, as with larger clubs, SRYSA may hold player evaluations in order to properly place or recommend a team and level that is the best fit for each player.

Classic Soccer Clubs

Classic Soccer clubs are independent clubs that can recruit players from all over the surrounding areas. They may be standalone in terms of partnerships with local clubs or USSF itself or choose to be registered and play in the local governing body like PA WEST. They will have a paid coaching staff with a higher level of training and experience within the sport. Many of the coaches will be local high school coaches, college coaches, or former players. You will notice the training will be more advanced and competitive or a curriculum will be set in place showing how a child’s development will be monitored. Parents will find that teams in these clubs will travel to play other competitive clubs in different cities and sometimes in different states. These teams will attend invitational tournaments looking to move up in national rankings – at a certain time in their playing career they will be able to attend showcase events in which they have the chance to play in front of collegiate scouts in hopes for that illusive college scholarship.  Within PA West there are currently 13 registered Classic Club teams, with the closest to us being located in Butler and northern Allegheny Counties.  Players must attend a tryout in order to be considered for a Classic team and players will most likely have to pay tuition for this higher level of training.  In my position, it is inappropriate to recommend one club over another.  Rather I can suggest questions that enquiring parents should ask prospective clubs.   It is also important to remember the 3 stages of player development.   These state that from 6 to 10 years of age children are in the “turn on” phase, from 10 to 14 years of age in the “technical development” phase and from 14 to 18 years of age in the “competitive learning” phase.  Hence, as parents of an U11 child in the “golden age of motor learning,” finding an environment that prioritizes player development and focuses on teaching excellent soccer technique is paramount.   Furthermore, during the U12 to U14 ages the team coach is often the most important element in this environment.

Olympic Development Program (ODP)

PA West Soccer/US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, or ODP as it is commonly called, is a national identification and development program designed to identify youth soccer players throughout the country, to represent their state (PA West Soccer) association, Region, and the United States in soccer competition. ODP pools are formed at the state and regional levels, made up of the best players in various age groups. At the state association level, pools of players are identified in each eligible age group, brought together as a team to develop their skills through training and competition. From the state pools, players are identified for regional and national pools and teams. PA West Soccer ODP is one of 15 state associations within US Youth Soccer Region I.


Any soccer player is eligible for consideration to participate in ODP provided that he/she meets the age
requirements for the established age groups. A player may not tryout for ODP in more than one state
ODP Age Groups are based on calendar year and birth year (January 1st-December 31st). 

1. Development as a player with the opportunity to train and play with the best players in one's age group.
2. Quality instruction from state, regional and national team licensed coaches.
3. Quality competition with games against other state association ODP teams.
4. The opportunity to represent one's state, region or country in competition.
5. Exposure to college coaches.

PA West Soccer ODP selects players on the basis of open tryouts (usually take place in the summer), as well as evaluations of play during school and club competitions. These tryouts/evaluations are conducted by licensed state association coaches who are recognized for their ability to identify and train players. Players can also try out at the invitation of the state team coaches. Players can be referred to a state team head coach or can be identified through scouting.

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Slippery Rock Youth Soccer Association

P.O. Box 103 
Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania 16057

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